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Exploring the Differences Between Assault and Battery Part 1

We often make the mistake of using the terms “assault” and “battery” interchangeably. It’s not hard to fathom why — we often hear both terms used in conjunction with one another, so we assume assault and battery are the same thing; however, the truth is that each term possesses its own meaning and legal consequences. If you have been charged with assault, battery, or both, you should consider contacting an assault and battery lawyer in Tampa to discuss your next course of action.

Being accused of a crime can be a stressful experience, especially when the crime you’re being accused of relates to violence. You want to be certain that you fully understand the scope of the charges being brought against you, so in this two-part series, an assault and battery attorney from the Rickman Law Firm will explain the differences between assault and battery to help you gain a fundamental understanding of these two separate, but often related, crimes.

Definitions and Qualifications

Assault is commonly defined as a threat of bodily harm that, according to the Cornell Law School, “Intentionally [puts] another person in reasonable apprehension of an imminent harmful or offensive contact.” To qualify as an assault, the aggressor doesn’t need to express intent to cause harm or follow through with inflicting physical harm on another person.

Battery, on the other hand, is usually defined as the physical impact being inflicted on another person. In other words, assault becomes battery once an actual, physical altercation has taken place. Therefore, when a victim is threatened but not touched, the crime is categorized as assault. If the victim was touched in a painful, harmful, violent, or otherwise offensive or dangerous way, they are likely committing battery.

Assault and Battery Charges Vary by Jurisdiction

Depending on the jurisdiction, assault and battery can either be paired together as one offense or processed separately. Logically, pairing these two crimes together makes sense since someone committing battery usually threatens the person which constitutes assault. As a rule of thumb, threatening behavior generally precedes a violent act. Of course, the severity of the crime can result in different consequences depending on the jurisdiction. Battery is categorized into three degrees which utilize different descriptions to portray the seriousness of the crime in question.

However, other jurisdictions may define assault more broadly to include intentional physical contact without the consent of the individual being touched. These jurisdictions define assault to include battery and categorize assault into three degrees that help decide the appropriate punishment that should be administered by a court of law against the aggressor.

In part two, we will continue to explore the differences between assault and battery including punishments and defenses.

For a free consultation with an experienced assault and battery attorney in Tampa, please contact The Rickman Law Firm today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.